I came from
Most recently, I left my job in non-profit at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a fundraising campaign manager to start business school at
That said, I was particularly impressed by what I saw at Literacy India. I met Kaushik in the morning and we headed first to the Palam Vihar school and headquarters. The tour was quite impressive. I met a few of the teachers and individuals involved in the program and peered into the various classrooms. Generous computer donations from Dell provides an opportunity to teach important technology skills to the students. Literacy
Next, we turned out attention to Indha, the social enterprise portion of Literacy India. At the paper making facility, I met the head manager and various women hard at work. They created the pulp, squeezed out the water, and ironed the sheets flat - ready to be turned into books and other Indha projects. Literacy
After seeing the paper production, it was time to drive to the neighboring town of
Our final stop was back at the headquarters in Palam Vihar to see the gift shop displaying all Indha products throughout
There are a few items Literacy India is successfully doing:
1) Teaching kids computer and useful vocational skills. This will give the students a huge advantage to establish a skill set and secure a job. Indha also builds skills and confidence, empowering the women involved.
2) Centers focus on local traditions, craft, challenges, and opportunities unique to that community.
3) Women involved in Indha have a voice. Their impute on pricing, design, strategy matters.
4) Job creation. Indha immediately creates jobs for women and the Literacy India school will help students land a future job.
5) The people involved in Literacy India who I met are passionate, dedicated, hard working, and have been involved for 5 years or more. That says a tremendous amount about the organization that is rapidly growing.
6) Trying an experimental approach. Literacy
Additionally, there are a few opportunities that Literacy India might want to take a look at. This, of course, depends on the organization's goals and abilities. Below is merely a few suggestions. Working in non-profit, I understand the overwhelming amount of work in the midst of being understaffed and underfunded.
1) There are resources where people look to apply their skills over short or long time periods. This might be an interesting way to find talented people who would be great to have involved as volunteers. (Lonely Planet has a volunteerism book, etc)
2) Social Media. Find social enterprise organizations online and see what they're doing. Increase the presence of Literacy India on Facebook, blogs, and other online sources. Have volunteers who have visited spread LI to their own networks to increase awareness. Broadcast successes and new products, etc. Increase the amount of people who "like" and actively comment about LI on Facebook.
3) Look for fair trade / social enterprise-minded stores in the
4) Re-engage students who have gone through Literacy India and see if they might best stay involved.
5) Look for a large quantity of small donors. From personal experience, during the economic slowdown in the
6) Introduce each story behind the Indha artists associated with the various products. Use a photo and bio. It's done for students in school on the website, but having write-ups included with each Indha purchase would connect the buyer even more. People want to help good causes. They want to see a direct way that their purchase has improved the world.
7) Sell Indha products at high end hotel gift shops. They are great gifts for tourists - plus, a good way to promote Literacy India and spread awareness. There might even be people interested in visiting the store in Palam Vihar with a brief tour for a different experience in
8) See if the western corporations popping up in Gurgaon would be interested in sponsoring / getting involved. Many big companies have corporate social responsibility departments. That might be a good way for companies to support a good cause in their backyard.
That said, Literacy India's future is looking bright. I'll be interested to see how it continues to expand and move towards total sustainability. Right now, it appears to have the right people involved in the right capacity. As I mentioned, this is crucial for success. It's obvious that the individuals I met at Literacy